A group of Abbotsford parents are upset that their children will have to take a school bus out of their neighbourhood to attend kindergarten this fall.
Three parents – Suzan Nowaczynski, Stephen Locke and Jen Koss – complained to the Abbotsford board of education Tuesday, June 20 about its enrolment policies. Their children are among 24 slated to attend kindergarten at Mountain Elementary in September, rather than McMillan Elementary, whose catchment they live in.
They blame a clause in an administrative procedure that allows children entering kindergarten to enroll in a school outside their home catchment, if they already have an older sibling enrolled there.
The parents said those out-of-catchment students should not be allowed to get enrolment priority over their children.
Nowaczynski said she lives “a stone’s throw away” from McMillan and thinks more could be done to make space for students there.
She suggested turning a multi-purpose room into a classroom or installing a portable classroom on the site, to make room to create another kindergarten division there.
Locke told the board he was worried it would be unsafe to put his young son on a school bus without seatbelts every morning.
He said he would prefer to drive his son to Mountain, but there is nowhere to park and walk him into school, only a drop-off point, which he says is not safe for kindergarten-age children.
The board deliberated over its new catchment and enrolment policies in a long process last year, chair Shirley Wilson explained to the group. She said the main goal of the policy was to force students to attend their in-catchment schools, as the district deals with crowded schools on the city’s east side.
She told them the district is constantly revising its policies.
In May, Wilson spoke to The News following another group of parents upset with the enrolment rules addressed the board.
“We have wrestled with this, we have lost sleep over this, as seven individuals [board trustees],” Wilson said, at the time. “This has been one of the most difficult things that I have gone through in my entire [12 year] tenure as a trustee because we don’t want any students not to have their needs met – that is just not our goal.”